FUEL efficiency, reliability and cab comfort rate at the top of the tree when you're talking tractors.
And they are three compelling reasons why Tincurrin farmers Gordon, John and Scott McDougall consider it makes sense to upgrade tractors when you can manage it.
The trio did just that earlier this year, buying a 280kW (375hp)Case-IH STX Steiger 375 from Dumbleyung dealer Farmers' Centre.
As it turned out, it was a common sense move given the tough year.
"It just costs too much to keep a tractor for too long," Gordon said. "If tough times come you want machinery that's reliable."
The bonus has been the performance of the STX.
"The standout feature is fuel saving," John said. We estimate we've saved between 30 and 60 per cent in fuel this year with consumption ranging between 28 and 35 litres an hour."
In hard, dry conditions this year the brothers established a 3100ha (7673ac) cropping program crop with a 14.2m (47ft) Forward Dominator 2800 bar and a 10,000 litre Forward EMU airseeder.
Digging depth, using DBS blades, was no more than 10cm (4in) because of the conditions but going was hard.
Yet at an average speed of 8.5km/h, fuel consumption was around 2.5L/ha.
"We were only using 50pc of power and it just kept going," John said. "It has a very good torque bubble so the lugging ability is extremely good and the revs don't change.
"You only notice the power going up but fuel consumption only goes up minimally.
"But to be fair we've only had it for one season and we are keen to see how it operates in a more normal year with a bit of moisture at depth."
The brothers also rated the transmission as "very user-friendly".
"You don't seem to notice the transmission," Gordon said. "It can sit on 1400rpm all day whether you go uphill or on the flat."
The STX Steiger line features the industry's only 16-speed powershift transmission, with electronic shifting with memory controls and the capability to start in any of the first eight gears.
If making fine speed adjustments in the paddock, the Case IH transmission provides nine working speeds between 4.8 and 12.8km/h, with 0.8km/h speed splits.
On the other hand, if you're in transport you can reach 36.8 km/h faster with the Autoskip shift function, which skips every other gear between 4 and 13.
Another important feature which all farmers rate as important is cab comfort and low noise levels.
The STX got a tick on both counts from the McDougall brothers.
"We can't fault the cab," John said. "There's very little noise, there's good visibility and it's comfortable to work in."
No problems were reported with the hydraulic system, which the brothers noted had plenty of oil in reserve.
"The fan on the airseeder didn't interfere with the rest of the system," Gordon said.